Hydropower is the oldest form of clean electricity, with significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions than most other energy sources.
For comparison with burning coal, hydropower avoids up to four billion tonnes of additional greenhouse gas emissions being emitted annually.
Hydropower also supports the rapid growth of solar and wind power, thanks to the flexibility and storage it offers power grids that are increasingly reliant on variable power supply.
Beyond its power benefits, hydropower also provides water services. Reservoir storage capacity can be used for drinking water supply, irrigation and flood control. Increasing global water storage capacity is imperative to adapting to a warmer world and meeting growing water demand.
Dams are greatly equipped to store and release water to combat the ever-growing frequency of droughts and flooding. Like other types of infrastructure, hydropower is however starting to experience negative impacts due to climate risks. Water availability and hydropower generation are affected by changes in hydrological patterns and extreme weather events.
The International Hydropower Association (IHA) works to showcase hydropower’s critical contribution to climate mitigation and adaption.
This includes the planning hydropower systems from a long-term, climate-resilient perspective; to protect operations and infrastructure from future climate-related risks.
Supporting owners, developers, governments and investors to plan, build, upgrade and operate facilities in the face of changing climatic and hydrological conditions is crucial.
This methodology was addressed in the Hydropower Sector Climate Resilience Guide, offering a means to identify, assess and manage climate risks and enhance the resilience of hydropower projects.
The guide also addresses how best to access, use and interpret climate change modelling and observed climate data.
Climate data is critical for future-proofed plans. IHA provides training and validation services for the GHG Reservoir (G-res) Tool, which reports the carbon footprint of hydropower projects. The tool provides a cost-effective way to accurately assess net greenhouse gas emissions and was developed in collaboration with the UNESCO Chair for Global Environmental Change.